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inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #76 of 116: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Sun 6 Jan 08 14:14
    
I have a bright view of that period as well, although I'm half a blip
younger than Jon. I found the darker reality in that period as well,
even as an adolescent, but I knew what to do with it right away --
avoid it if you could, fight it if you couldn't!

I've written about some of those themes on my WELL website page
devoted to the subject of "frootbats."

I am the dog in the corner who growls for no apparent reason when the
bad guy walks into the saloon. Even my very concrete wife has learned
to trust my intuition.
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #77 of 116: FROM KYLE JOHNSON (davadam) Sun 6 Jan 08 15:25
    
Kyle Johnson comments:

This conversation needs a heretic:

I'd like to chime in defense of conspiracy theorists by asserting
that, in the big picture scheme of things, they have an annoying
tendency of being more right than they are wrong. Take, for instance,
the
9-11-was-an-inside-jobbers: Were the Towers packed with plastique on
the secret orders of Paul Wolfowitz to kickstart the Frankenstein
Monster for a New American Century? Eh, no. But the 9-11 hijackers
*were* the dividend of a paramilitary network financed and trained by
America in the 1980s, because we appreciated their penchant for giving
the Soviets their own taste of Vietnam; Provide free schooling and
financing to stone-cold killers and it's going to come back and bite
you in the ass every time. (Cf. the old story about "The Scorpion and
the Frog", I always thought it was an old Buddhist parable but it turns
out it was written by Orson Welles! Thanks, Wikipedia: 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scorpion_and_the_frog)

My point is, since we created and paid for the people that did it, I'd
say the sentence "9-11 was inside job" is, on balance, more true than
it isn't. Similarly, I find classic conspiracy theory statements such
as "We invaded Iraq to steal their oil", "Karl Rove runs Diebold" and
"Dick Cheney is an Evil Robot" are ultimately more useful as being
understood as (at least 51%) truthful. Even though, when you actually
try to connect the breadcrumbs the conspiracy theorist whackjob is
screaming at you across the crowded bar, it's obviously all a load of
bollocks.

What I'm proposing for 2008 is an evolution beyond the limitations of
General Conspiracy Theory to arrive at something of a Quantum Theory of
Conspiracies. Where it's perfectly OK that we can't find the location
of the second gunman because it's impossible to simultaneously know the
location of an assassin and the vector of his bullet. This is exciting
stuff: A corrollary Quantum Theory of Jesus could yield an equation
resolving Original Sin with the Carbon Footprint while sidestepping the
zero denominator the literal interpretation of the Pentateuch. Of
course, there are always costs. One predictable side effect would is an
attendent renaissance in crappy sympathy card poetry, with punchlines
such as, ">>Dear God, when I looked back on the most difficult parts of
my life, there was no footprint at all! >>That, my child, is because I
was busy composting your hidebound, nihilistic orthodoxy. An 8000-year
old planet? Jesus Christ!"
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #78 of 116: FROM PATRICK FREEMAN (davadam) Sun 6 Jan 08 15:26
    
Patrick Freeman comments:

I have to agree with Scott MacFarlane.  I'm 63 years old, born in 1944
and graduated from college in 1966.  So I'm probably a bit older than
the average reader here, and was probably a bit younger than the
average Vietnam vet, at least military officers who served in Vietnam,
since that is what I was.  An Air Force officer for nearly 25 years. 
Despite what many here would probably consider a grievous handicap of a
career, I was influenced by much of what happened in the '60s and '70s
in America and the world.  I found the Whole Earth Catalog endlessly
fascinating, and was an early convert to the environmental concepts and
concerns introduced by Rachel Carson in Silent Spring.  I read all the
classic back to the earth texts and dreamed of building my own
furniture and my own home on a few acres of woodland.  But, for the
most part, like most everyone else, I didn't.  I had a wife and kids, a
career which gave me sustenance, graduate education, and a feeling of
contributing to something larger than merely grubbing a few bucks. 

The environmental and philosophical movements of the '60s and '70s
gave birth to the society we live in today.  We found some truth in the
back to the land movement and in our first meager attempts to
enlighten and improve American society.  My wife and I still refer to
Diet for a Small Planet  and recycle everything we can.  We voted for
McGovern in '72 and even Dukakis in '88, and are in utter despair at
the devastation wrought by Bush and Cheney, and their corporate
henchmen over the first long years of the 21st century.  But we still
find hope in America and Americans.  We live in a nice house in a nice
community and drive a nice, newer minivan, but do not aspire to SUVs
and McMansions.  Peak oil?  I commuted 100 miles per day to a solar
observatory in the desert east of San Diego during the first "oil
shock" of the 1970's (in a car pool, of course).  We saw some few
people who would line up every day to buy gasoline to feed their motor
homes for the weekend, but we saw more people who were cooperative and
understanding, and patient.  We think these latter types will
ultimately prevail.  We understand our place in the world and our
responsibilities as citizens of the planet and the nation.  We live
with hope and optimism, and are not about to give up and lapse into
cynicism and despair.  We think we will find a way through the looming
challenges of the future, and believe our grandchildren will live
better lives than we do now.  That, after all, is why we are here. 
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #79 of 116: NEAL SOLDOFSKY (davadam) Sun 6 Jan 08 15:27
    
Neal Soldofsky comments:

Hey all, thanks for the wonderful discussion.

#60 < If I have one persistent gloom-and-doom fear it's consolidated
media ownership. That you can enumerate, and see the effects of.

Me, I'm not that terrified of consolidated media ownership in the long
term, because I think in the long term the internet will be the most
important media platform for most people. Then, of course, control goes
into the hands of the ISP's, who are themselves a pretty consolidated
and unsavory lot, but the internet is too hard to control for me to
worry about those people. And I think people will freak the hell out if
anyone messes with there internets. You'd have to be real subtle to
manage it, and I don't think it would be possible to do it in a subtle
way. 

I only see traditional medial companies being able to maintain control
over big budget things. The real question is whether or not they will
lose their grip on the news, and I think they will, eventually. But it
might be ten years before things really change in terms of who controls
the news, and with our terrible quality of news, and the direness of
the times, that does seem like a long while. 

What's your take on this Bruce? How do you think the internet will
affect news and the way people consume it? Do you think people will be
more or less informed? 
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #80 of 116: MICHAEL HEAP (davadam) Sun 6 Jan 08 15:27
    
Michael Heap comments:

Bruce, my thoughts return to last year with your discussion, im still
thinking of the points raised, very inspirational. Through a number of
discussions ive come to the conclusion that yes its going to take far
more than green teacups bailing us out of our current problems to 'save
the world', its going to have to take a Manhattan style project, with
the best and the brightest being given a huge amount of resources to
try to solve the problems at hand. Trying every crazy ass scheme they
can come up with. From sinking huge concrete spheres in the ocean to
suck co2 out of the ocean and subsequently out of the atmosphere,
punching a hole in the atmosphere to vent co2 into space, to promoting
algal blooms in surface water via Co2 & Iron dust, man made volcanoes
spewing sulpher into the atmosphere, air capture and processing via
artificial trees. – all utopian thinking but without funding and
serious asynchronous thinking we will never know. 
 
I also have a feeling that the small individual efforts are virtually
a waste of time (an false panacea or placebo if you will) if not
detrimental to the CO2 reduction because– it allows people to think we
can continue business as usual.  And here is my thinking.
 
Recycling – most recycling actually uses more energy/resources than it
saves – think about the massive recycling ghettos in China and India
that recycle our detritus, in this case im thinking of electronics
recycling where the primary goal is to recover valuable metals for on
sale – don't let the 'recycling' sales pitch fool you – what the
business is about is recovering scrap metals, not disposing of
materials in a safe and green way 
 
Hybrid/Electric vehicles – the energy required to manufacture the
vehicles (im specifically thinking about the batteries & shipping here)
 - the nickel ore alone is mined in Ontario, (Acid rain damage)
shipped to Europe for smelting (CO2 emissions), then shipped to china
to produce nickel foam (CO2 & other environmental impact), then
subsequently shipped to Japan to make batteries & then assembled into
cars(CO2 & other environmental impact). Then shipped to where ever the
car is intended to be driven (CO2) – don't let the CO2 friendly
advertising fool you – a prius causes more environmental damage than a
SUV – and is more expensive per mile too. 
 
Carbon offset – for that cross country flight you've just taken for
Christmas -  you were carbon neutral right? You coughed up the cash and
paid to off set the carbon right? Well check the company you gave your
cash to. First of all traditional carbon offsetting is massively
inefficient way of getting rid of CO2, Planting trees – hmm great idea
– well it depends on what you do with them afterward, doesn't it, in an
ideal world you plant quick growing trees cut them down and bury them.
Not let IKEA buy the pine in 10 years time turn the trees into wood
pulp then build you a new bookcase which ends up as burnable landfill
in 3 years time. Its also very hard to quantify the levels of CO2
removed from the atmosphere by planting trees. Secondly how can you
tell the company you're giving money to is actually planting trees?
Most companies providing carbon offsetting schemes are less than
transparent and the projects are entirely unregulated and is planting
trees really the best and quickest way to offset co2? 
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #81 of 116: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Sun 6 Jan 08 15:46
    
When I moved to the bay area I found all the remnants of the sixties
here to be tremendously appealing, especially compared to my hometown
where there was little obvious evidence that the sixties had actually
happened there.

But there's a difference between learning from history and being
obsessed by it.  It would be a shame if our relationship with the
sixties turned into something like the old South's obsession with the
Civil War.  Luckily there's not all that much danger of it.

There's a lot of the past mixed in with the present, but the parts
that are most obviously of the sixties are the anachronisms.  Maybe the
best way to honor the past is to recycle it.
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #82 of 116: Tom Jennings (t-o-m-i-c) Sun 6 Jan 08 16:42
    
 *We really do need to learn to generate lots of prototypes,
 throw 'em at the wall, search them, sort them, rank them,
 critique them,  and blow the best ones into global-scale
 proportions at high speed.  That's what our contemporary
 civilization is really good at, and it is simply beyond the
 imagination of the 1960s.

The point I see behind 'lots of prototypes' and '100 
ideas... kill off 97 of them' isn't the successful products
but the failures themselves. You learn from failures; little is
learned from successes (though we often benefit from them). I
teach electronics and fabrication to art grad kids, and getting
them to 'post mortem' their failures without shame or beratement
is a worthwhile chore. First-time success leads to subsequent
failure.


Bruce's point about industrial carbon credits and such is spot
on; it's not a "60's" environmental type ideal; it's a hard
and cold technique of the present, that time will tell us if
it worked or not. Best case is that 20, 50 years it's laughbly
silly because we're doing something better.
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #83 of 116: Tom Jennings (t-o-m-i-c) Sun 6 Jan 08 16:55
    
davadam:
> Me, I'm not that terrified of
> consolidated media ownership in the
> long term, because I think in the
> long term the internet will be the
> most important media platform for
> most people.

I'm sorry, but I can never understand why people insist "the
internet is different". It's not. It's not decentralized (some of
its protocols are); when it was demilitarized, it wasn't handed
to some public entity to run (not that I think that would work)
but to commercial businesses. It was an unattended playground,
but that phase is ending (has ended).

It's unique and decentralized-looking at this moment. You're
fooling yourself if you think this somehow inherent in "the
internet".

davadam:
> Then, of course, control goes into the
> hands of the ISP's, who are themselves
> a pretty consolidated and unsavory
> lot, but the internet is too hard to
> control for me to worry about those
> people.

Pre-comma, well duh, there you go. Post comma, huh? Unlike even
the telephone network, where the contained traffic is an analog
representation of human utterance, and hard to machine-parse,
everything
within the internet has tightly-defined symbolic meaning, and
trivial to parse. It's a done deal.

Sorry for the 2nd post.
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #84 of 116: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Sun 6 Jan 08 18:50
    
Easy to say by someone who hasn't actually tried to parse the
Internet.

If the ISP's make a serious try of it, encryption will be used a lot
more than it is now.
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #85 of 116: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 6 Jan 08 20:48
    
Rather than parse the Internet, Tom created his own. 

(http://www.region17.net/jennings.html)

>> I think in the
>> long term the internet will be the
>> most important media platform for
>> most people.
>
> I'm sorry, but I can never understand why people insist "the
> internet is different". It's not.

I think the Internet does present a different environment for media,
in that anyone can have access to the means of production and
distribution, and in this context, when we see "the media" cover a
story, it's not a handful of broadcast channels we're talking about,
but a combination of increasingly more interactive and user-driven
professional media channels and media sources that are more or less
amateur operations. I think davadam is saying, "so what if the Daily
Planet owns every broadcast channel in Metropolis - I'm getting my news
from blogs like Weblogsky and Beyond the Beyond."  You've got a
bazillion ways to aggregate news and build your world-view, without
reference to newspapers, television, or radio. And where can Rupert
Murdoch go to buy a controlling interest in the Internet?
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #86 of 116: Tom Jennings (t-o-m-i-c) Sun 6 Jan 08 22:47
    
jonl: I think davadam is saying, "so
what if the Daily Planet owns every
broadcast channel in Metropolis -
I'm getting my news from blogs like
Weblogsky and Beyond the Beyond."
You've got a bazillion ways to
aggregate news and build your
world-view, without reference to
newspapers, television, or radio. And
where can Rupert Murdoch go to buy a
controlling interest in the Internet?

But you could have viewed radio that way in 1940, and look what
happened there -- with few exceptions, it's a total wasteland
today (U.S. anyhoo). Relentless vertical integration. The seeds
of that conglomeration were there the whole time, visible in
station ownership patterns, 80 years of legal assaults by GE et al,
tech manufacturers, music industry influences -- but it wasn't
*seen* that way until it was too late.

I am in no way insisting that this will happen to the internet
-- but I am asserting that the converse -- this mythology of
the self-healing decentralized anarchic internet -- is not only
wrong, but harmful.

But look at music -- in 1900 music meant performance almost
exclusively; by the 1980's there was a near total vertical
integration -- artist contracts, production, distribution --
but just as it got apocalyptic the collapse began that we're
experiencing now (cheap recording tech, CDRs, downloads,
...). Today the meaning of "music" has been utterly culturally
transformed. Though I didn't experience music pre-recording,
I like what 'music' means today. So nothing's certain and it's
not all bad news.


I think also that there is a fear that if we "lose" the internet,
we really are lost. That may be in fact true. Where WOULD we
be today if we did not have an internet?
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #87 of 116: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Mon 7 Jan 08 04:32
    

*I'm a big fan of subcultures, countercultures and bohemias.  They
generate a lot of strange ideas and alternative practices.  A lot of
those ideas turn out to be crap, of course, but at least they're being
pioneered by volunteers, they're not crap ideas opposed from on high by
the Stalinist Central Committee.

I'm from Austin, where we have the Austin light-bulb joke.

"How many Austinites does it take to change a light-bulb?
"Three, one to do it and two to reminisce about how great Austin was
in the 60s."

A slightly dated joke as Austinites are now likelier to be installing
cold LED flat-panel displays in their creative-class atelier, but you
get the point.

It's soppy to be a 60s nostalgist, but really, there's a LOT more
written about Nazis and what Nazis believed than about hippies and what
hippies believed.  A coinage like "Islamo-fascist" will get you all
kinds of traction, whereas describing Al Qaeda as
"Islamo-BaaderMeinhof" would get you a big fat "huh?"  Even though the
Red Army Fraktion got a lot of its tactics and weapons training from
the Middle East terror groups, and even though they were 60s armed
radicals very big on suicide.  Remember "konsumterror"?  People who are
all down on consumerism oughta bone up a little on "konsumterror."   
It's like: you're a materialist, so I knock over an armored car and
then kneecap you.  Truly the missing legacy of the 70s.

People who talk about the failings of Boomers always talk about hippie
leftie druggie Boomers, but Bush is a Boomer, so is Gingrich, so is
Rove.  Most of the NeoCons are Boomers, except a few of their gray
emininences.  When it comes to seizing power and enforcing radical
change on society, Neoconservativism has pretty much gotta be the
Boomer philosophy par excellence.  Except maybe for Al Qaeda, because
Bin Laden's a Boomer, too.
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #88 of 116: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Mon 7 Jan 08 04:47
    
"But look at music -- in 1900 music meant performance almost
exclusively; by the 1980's there was a near total vertical
integration -- artist contracts, production, distribution --
but just as it got apocalyptic the collapse began that we're
experiencing now (cheap recording tech, CDRs, downloads,
...). Today the meaning of "music" has been utterly culturally
transformed. Though I didn't experience music pre-recording,
I like what 'music' means today. So nothing's certain and it's
not all bad news."

*I never imagined I'd be the kinda guy who says "kids these days have
music that sucks."  In fact pretty much ALL AND EVERY aspect of popular
culture has suffered under the Bush Administration, but music,
especially so.

*Best-selling albums of 2007... there's like, Daughtry, who's a
Japanese-style TV-manufactured pop idoru...  a Christmas Carols
album...  a Walt Disney soundtrack... Fergie, Justin Timberlake, the
Police and the Beatles.  I don't mind Fergie, those she's not a
musician, and Justin Timberlake is a professional entertainer who works
hard for his millions, but that's music from a despondent era.  It's
like the pre-rock-and-roll days of Pat Boone's white suede shoes and
"How Much Is That Doggie in the Window".

Why should the Police, biggest band of the early 80s, and the Beatles,
biggest band of the 60s (with two dead guys in it), kick the ass of
musicians in the 00s?  Because their competition has been strangled,
that's why.  The Bush regime is a grim, dispirited period.  Everybody
knows there's something wrong with it.


"I think also that there is a fear that if we "lose" the internet,
we really are lost. That may be in fact true. Where WOULD we
be today if we did not have an internet?"

There's a science fiction anthology written on this theme.
http://www.louanders.com/livewithoutanetpage.htm

I didn't write anything for that book.  Unfortunately.
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #89 of 116: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 7 Jan 08 06:59
    
"...Bush is a Boomer, so is Gingrich, so is
Rove.  Most of the NeoCons are Boomers, except a few of their gray
emininences.  When it comes to seizing power and enforcing radical
change on society, Neoconservativism has pretty much gotta be the
Boomer philosophy par excellence."

My point, exactly. The sixties grew more Bush/Roves than hippies. They
were doing est or starting to build businesses or work for
politicians, instead of living on communes. Some (e.g. Bill Gates) were
beginning, or preparing, to build corporate empires.

"It'slike the pre-rock-and-roll days of Pat Boone's white suede shoes
and 'How Much Is That Doggie in the Window'."

The centralized, corporate music industry is crumbling, undone in part
by competition from independents at a micro level, the sort of bands
that are getting exposure and circulation via systems like emusic,
which charges a flat rate for a set monthly number of perfectly legal
music downloads. (Music also circulates freely through file sharing
communities, but the RIAA seems to be working aggressively to put that
genie back in the bottle... which won't fix their core problem, which
is that the traditional music industry is disintermediated and undone
by digital convergence.)

Sale of recorded music is no longer a great way to make money - the
bands that are doing well make money by touring, and they have hundreds
of online channels to promote their music and their performances.

David Byrne describes the new world of digital music very well in an
article in the current issue of Wired:
http://www.wired.com/entertainment/music/magazine/16-01/ff_byrne
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #90 of 116: Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Mon 7 Jan 08 07:08
    
<It's soppy to be a 60s nostalgist>

But it's no more "soppy" to take an historical, disaffected look at
the hippie ethos than it is to wrap oneself in geekspeak, sci-fi
coinages and pretend that this is what is going to really happen in the
future. Utopianism can distort both views. You talked about moving
forward with fact, not faith. For purposes of a pragmatic futurism, I
agree, yet faith-based initiatives, whether Jihadist, apocalyptic
Christian, etc. are wildcards which do impact our future, too. 


<describing Al Qaeda as "Islamo-BaaderMeinhof" would get you a big fat
"huh?" Remember "konsumterror"? Truly the missing legacy of the 70s.>

That's a great description for Al Qaeda!  Earlier you described the
"boomers" of the Chinese cultural revolution.  Careful not to impose
today's globalism on the "globe" of 1968.  Yes, in strict demographic,
population dynamics you can talk about the hippies, Chinese cultural
revolutionist, BaaderMeinof, all in the same "boomer" breath, but in
doing so you conflate your socio-historical perspective.  At a recent
academic conference, someone mentioned that there were two 1968's, the
1968 of San Francisco and the 1968 of Paris.  The
Haight-back-to-the-land hippie epitomized the former, while the
neo-Marxist radical student revolutionaries epitomized the latter.  The
German BaaderMeinof was an extreme example of Paris '68, not SF. 
Likewise, the New Leftist politicos in the US (Hoffman/Bernadine Dohrn)
bore more resemblance to the radicalized Paris of '68, than to the
Dionysian elements of the Haight (which they tried to co-opt).

At that conference, after this comment was made about SF/Paris,
someone asked, "what about the 1968 of Prague?"  Tianaman (sp) Square
(although later), as a reaction to a similar Marxist totalitarianism,
and more akin to the Prague Spring, than to the youthful disaffections
of Paris or SF.  

Likewise, if we're not going to conflate our history, shouldn't we
also point to Saigon 1968 as epitomizing the hugely significant
anti-colonial, Nationalist movement of the third world?  Ho Chi Minh
was a Nationalist more than a communist. The Tet Offensive of the
Vietnamese is best understood from this historical impetus.

SF/Paris/Prague/Saigon 1968 were like different winds blowing at the
same time. An historical perspective which doesn't conflate them all
into a singular boomer phenomena will help us better grasp a Global
future. Whatever our Global future, it will have been greatly
influenced by a convergence of all those different storms.


<People who talk about the failings of Boomers always talk about
hippie leftie druggie Boomers, but Bush is a Boomer, so is Gingrich, so
is Rove.  Most of the NeoCons are Boomers, except a few of their gray
emininences.>

Yes, but demographic conflation, again.  The wind of the once-called
"Silent Majority" began blowing hard in the US with Reagan in 1980. 
However, I've always thought that the term "Conservative Revolution"
coined by the Gingrich gang in 1994, was a great example of Orwellian
double speak.  The hippies had a consciousness revolution, the New
Leftists attempted neo-Marxist revolution, there was a revolution
starting with Prague '68 and culminating in '89 with the fall of the
Berlin Wall that overthrew the totalitarianism of Lenin's earlier
revolution.  By comparison, the Silent Majority of the US was
reactionary, never revolutionary.  The no-longer-silent-politicos in
the US were embracing the military-industrial status quo and harkening
back to an earlier Eisenhower Zeitgeist.         

<When it comes to seizing power and enforcing radical
change on society, Neoconservativism has pretty much gotta be the
Boomer philosophy par excellence.  Except maybe for Al Qaeda, because
Bin Laden's a Boomer, too.>

Neoconservatism is indeed radical, but, again, you're trying to fit
too much into your "Boomer" paradigm.  [I wish Neoconservativism were
merely "soppy".]   
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #91 of 116: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Mon 7 Jan 08 07:14
    
>>The wind of the once-called "Silent Majority" began blowing hard in
the US with Reagan in 1980.<<<

I'm not so sure, Scott. I don't have the voting data at hand, but my
sense has long been that Boomers got Reagan elected, not their parents.
A helluva lot of guys marched against the Vietnam War in the late
60s/early 70s just to get laid, you know. My speculation is that a few
years later they voted for Reagan. 
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #92 of 116: Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Mon 7 Jan 08 08:06
    
You may be right, Steve.  Which goes to show that "boomers" are simply
those born between a set of years.  For clarification, maybe 1980 is
when the silent majority (young and old) became unsilent.  There may
have always been a majority of "boomers" who were politically
conservative. George Wallace used to cater to the patriotic youth who
weren't out burning flags and raising hell. [Even the hardcore
back-to-the-land hippies were radically traditional.]


<<A helluva lot of guys marched against the Vietnam War in the late
60s/early 70s just to get laid>  

We should drag those infidels to Wall Street and burn them at the
stake. (Wait. A bunch of them are already there).
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #93 of 116: Tom Jennings (t-o-m-i-c) Mon 7 Jan 08 10:23
    
bruces> In fact pretty much ALL AND EVERY aspect of popular
culture has suffered under the Bush Administration, but music,
especially so.

Umm, I totally disagree; THAT particular industry has THRIVED
under the little shrub; their problems of today they caused
themselves long ago!


bruces> Why should the Police, biggest band of the early 80s,
and the Beatles, biggest band of the 60s (with two dead guys
in it), kick the ass of musicians in the 00s?  

They don't! The music dinosaurs pack the stores with that old
dead rubbish and even with a hermetic market they are FAILING.

There are many large and thriving (culturally, not industrially)
music scenes. Hiphop has been topping sales for decades, utterly
ignored by a literally racist industry. Electronic dance music
is highly successful and wildly mutated and the artists involved
don't even fit in the model at all.

Here's one of those revealing factual details: the data in MP3
ID3 tags assumes the business model of

    band -> album -> song

whereas most DJ-produced releases are closer to 

    label -> DJ -> [ artist -> track; artist -> track; ...] 

where 'artist' can be another DJ, and 'label' can be one of the
big guys' "independent units" or an 'artist', and the overall
container ("disc") is itself made as a complete performance. 


Performance has been treated for years as a way to promote record
sales; this is reversing in many areas.  Was it David Byrne
who recently said "calling a record 'music' is like calling
a shopping cart 'groceries'.  Performance is again the unique
and valuable thing.
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #94 of 116: NEAL SOLDOFSKY -- not (davadam) Mon 7 Jan 08 11:37
    
Neal Soldofsky comments from off-WELL:

regarding #86

I agree with you that is foolish to suggest that the internet is
bulletproof. When I said that the internet was too difficult to
control, I meant that if anyone made moves to limit what was great
about it, specifically the way it empowers people to distribute their
own media, people would freak out in a major way. I swear, there would
be riots. It'd be like trying to ban rock music. The kids would shit.
I'm sure that most ISP's have the ambition to ruin the internet, and
that plenty of politicians would consider letting them, but the kind of
public outcry you'd get would be too much. It's one thing to screw
with people's environment and country, it's another thing the screw
with their entertainment. And as the internet's importance in the realm
of popular entertainment grows, it's only going to get harder. 

But as it stands, I think it's safe to assume that the internet will
continue to fragment culture. That's the thing I'm most excited about
for the future. Not that I think this is going to necessarily improve
the quality of news for the average person. I do worry about the news.
I think more substantive news from more perspectives will be made
available, but I have no special reason to assume that most people will
seek it out. I have no ideas, really. How about the rest of yous? What
do you think is happening with the news? 

This is from Neal, by the way, not davadam. I'm emailing my comments
in.
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #95 of 116: Lloyd Duhon (radioastro) Mon 7 Jan 08 15:19
    
To <BruceS> #88

"I never imagined I'd be the kinda guy who says "kids these days have
music that sucks."  In fact pretty much ALL AND EVERY aspect of
popular
culture has suffered under the Bush Administration, but music,
especially so."

Can you honestly give a president, ANY president this much credit?
Love them or hate them, just how much culture shift is the president
himself responsible for? 

To <JonL> #89

"Sale of recorded music is no longer a great way to make money - the
bands that are doing well make money by touring, and they have
hundreds of online channels to promote their music and their
performances."

*Do you consider this a negative? The fan is now closer to the artist.
The artist makes art, the fan pays homage. The bureaucracy involved in
the whole middleman process is constantly diminished. 
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #96 of 116: NEAL SOLDOFSKY -- not (davadam) Mon 7 Jan 08 16:16
    
Neal Soldofsky comments from off-WELL:

Regarding #88

Music does not suck these days. Just the best selling music, and even
all of it. Anything produced my Timbaland is a marvel, in my opinion.
And that includes Justin Timerlake's 'I'm Bringing Sexy Back'. A very
stupid song, but well done. But that's not what I really mean to talk
about. There's great music all over the place if you look for it. I
bought a ton of great albums last year. 

Kings of Leon - Because of the Times
Devendra Banhart - Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
Dan Deacon - Spiderman of the Rings
Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
Noah Georgeson - Find Shelter
Arctic Monkeys - Favorite Worst Nightmare 

That's just a few. There are tons of great bands and a ton of great
records. There just isn't an over overwhelmingly large audience for any
one band. That doesn't worry me. The oughts don't need a Beatles or an
Elvis. I'm not worried for the future of music, because all the
members of my favorite bands are still alive. 

burces > The Bush regime is a grim, dispirited period. Everybody knows
there's something wrong with it.

wasn't there something wrong with the eighties? I'm a young man, and I
don't get much a sense from my peers that they are dispirited. Sure,
their parents are dispirited, but not the kids. And the kids are making
a lot joyful music right now (evidence:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_vl5vcG9VI  )
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #97 of 116: Tom Jennings (t-o-m-i-c) Mon 7 Jan 08 17:58
    
(My apologies to jonl for overlooking his post re: music.)

So music got itself vastly vertically integrated with a handful of
distribution channels carrying 90% or whatever of the bulk;
radio/tv/print has more nearly done the same. Food is largely done the
same. (Talking US here, sorry.) Some things (oddly, vitamin food
additives) are already global cartels.

So this meta-business with the near ability to aggregate at this level
-- this seems novel (and not in a good way). It's kinda sorta like
monopoly, but not really since the "individual" players are not all one
legal entity.

Bruce an Gibson wrote about this stuff.

Will THAT meta-mechanism continue? The EU has stopped a lot of that
American toxic financial mechanism from importing, but is there
anything "natural" (sic) to stop it? Does it need stopping or limits?
How to we not end up in the world of  Rollerball?
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #98 of 116: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 7 Jan 08 20:13
    
>>>
"Sale of recorded music is no longer a great way to make money - the
bands that are doing well make money by touring [etc]"

*Do you consider this a negative?
<<<

Not at all - not sure how I gave that impression.
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #99 of 116: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 8 Jan 08 04:07
    
"Careful not to impose
today's globalism on the "globe" of 1968.  Yes, in strict demographic,
population dynamics you can talk about the hippies, Chinese cultural
revolutionist, BaaderMeinof, all in the same "boomer" breath, but in
doing so you conflate your socio-historical perspective.  At a recent
academic conference, someone mentioned that there were two 1968's, the
1968 of San Francisco and the 1968 of Paris.  The
Haight-back-to-the-land hippie epitomized the former, while the
neo-Marxist radical student revolutionaries epitomized the latter. 
The
German BaaderMeinof was an extreme example of Paris '68, not SF. 
Likewise, the New Leftist politicos in the US (Hoffman/Bernadine
Dohrn)
bore more resemblance to the radicalized Paris of '68, than to the
Dionysian elements of the Haight (which they tried to co-opt).

"At that conference, after this comment was made about SF/Paris,
someone asked, "what about the 1968 of Prague?" 

(((Yeah, what a good question.  I wanted to figure that one out
myself.)))

<p> Tianaman (sp) Square
(although later), as a reaction to a similar Marxist totalitarianism,
and more akin to the Prague Spring, than to the youthful disaffections
of Paris or SF.  

<p>Likewise, if we're not going to conflate our history, shouldn't we
also point to Saigon 1968 as epitomizing the hugely significant
anti-colonial, Nationalist movement of the third world?  (((etc etc)))

*Y'know, that was just great.  I enjoyed that.  I admit cheerily that
I was conflating, while s-mcfarlane there was disambiguating...  Kinda
the systole and diastole of historical analysis, really.

*I could read stuff like that all day, and often do.

*About the best I can offer here is to say that the farther one gets
historically, the more the facts on the ground tend to compost.  If you
zoom in all close to the Great '68 Rebellion, you'd get guys howling
stuff like "hey, Prague, Paris, San Francisco, what about Port Huron?" 
Historians always end up conflating, as you can't establish meaning
without pruning the thicket of facts.

There's an alarming paucity of facts about the Dark Ages.  I always
wonder what was really going on there.  Presumably they were
pig-ignorant and puttering along on subsistence agriculture for about
400 years, but who knows, maybe they were radically enlighted
sustainable green communes and nobody was bothering to write that down.

  
  
inkwell.vue.317 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008
permalink #100 of 116: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 8 Jan 08 04:25
    
"I never imagined I'd be the kinda guy who says "kids these days have
music that sucks."  In fact pretty much ALL AND EVERY aspect of
popular culture has suffered under the Bush Administration, but music,
especially so."

"Can you honestly give a president, ANY president this much credit?
Love them or hate them, just how much culture shift is the president
himself responsible for?"

*Y'know, before Bush, I would have been all socially-determinate about
that and said "not much," but after having that guy as my governor for
two terms and President for two terms, yeah, he's frankly disastrous. 
He was a true calamity for American civil society.  I hope our
democracy never elects a dimwitted aristocrat again.

*That doesn't explain why Britain has failed to launch
earth-shattering pop music to make up for the lack in America.  I could
make a case that they did better than the US did.


Kings of Leon - Because of the Times (Tennessee)
Devendra Banhart - Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon (weird
Texan-Venezuelan-Angeleno)
Dan Deacon - Spiderman of the Rings (some guy from Baltimore I've
frankly never heard of, maybe he's bigger than Elvis)
Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam  (also from Baltimore, bidding fair
to be the San Francisco of the 00s, presumably)
Noah Georgeson - Find Shelter  (Devendra's producer)
Arctic Monkeys - Favorite Worst Nightmare   (Brits)

*I've got nothing against these guys, but I'd call them cult figures. 
  They seem content to lurk underground without producing the kind of
artistic work that demands public attention.

*It might be that in cheerier times public attention goes and finds
musicians.
  

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